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comport with the general plan of the war to keep a superior fleet always in these seas, and France would put us in a condition to be active by advancing us money. The ruin of the enemy's schemes would then be certain ; the bold game they are now playing would be the means of effecting it; for they would be reduced to the necessity of concentring their force at capital points, thereby giving up all the advantages they have gained in the southern States, or be vulnerable everywhere.
Such of the Pennsylvania line, as had reassembled and were recruited, say about one thousand, were ordered, about the middle of February, to join the southern army; and since the disappointment of our enterprise against Arnold, I have directed the detachment under the command of the Marquis de Lafayette to proceed thither; but how either can march, without money or credit, is more than I can tell
. With every wish for your success, and a safe and speedy return, and with every sentiment of esteem and affection, I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO COUNT DE ROCHAMBEAU.
New Windsor, 10 April, 1781. SIR, I had the pleasure of receiving your Excellency's letter of the 6th instant only two hours ago. . greatly indebted to the Chevalier Destouches for the disposition he shows to undertake the expedition to Penobscot, and to you for your readiness to furnish a detachment of troops for the same purpose. The object is certainly worthy of our attention, and if it can be effected will be very agreeable to the States,
particularly to those of the east. M. Destouches can best judge, from the situation of the enemy's fleet, how far it may be attempted with prudence; and your Excellency, from the information you have recently received, what number of troops will be sufficient for the enterprise. I am persuaded it will be calculated how far it is probable the enemy may follow with a part of their fleet; whether the post can be carried by a coup de main, or may require so much time as to make it likely the operation will be interrupted before its conclusion, in case of a superior squadron being sent by the enemy; and what possibility there is of protection, or a safe retreat for the ships, and even for the land force, through an unsettled country. All these points are too important not to have been well weighed, and your conversations with the Massachusetts deputies will have enlightened you upon them.
The confidence I have in your judgment assures to you the concurrence of my sentiments, in whatever you may do on the occasion. I will only take the liberty to remark two things; first, that it appears to me frigates, without any ships of the line, will answer the purpose as well as with them, and less will be risked by dividing the body of the fleet. Frigates, including the forty-fours, will afford a safe escort to the troops against any thing now in those seas. With respect to a detachment from the enemy's fleet, it would always be proportioned to the force we should send. If we have two sixty-fours, they would even be an object for their whole fleet. Secondly, as despatch is essential to success, it will in my opinion be advisable not to depend on any coöperation of the militia, but to send at once such a force from your army, as you
deem completely adequate to a speedy reduction of
The country in the neighbourhood of Penobscot is too thinly inhabited to afford any resource of militia there; and to assemble and convey them from remote places would announce your design, retard your operations, and give leisure to the enemy to counteract you. Indeed, I would recommend, for the sake of secrecy, to conceal your determination from the State itself. These hints you will be pleased to make use of only so far as they appear to be well founded.
I have the honor to be, &c.*
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
New Windsor, 11 April, 1781. MY DEAR MARQUIS, Your favor dated at Elk the 8th instant reached me at ten o'clock last evening. While I give you credit for the manœuvre by which you removed the British ships from before Annapolis, I am sorry, as matters are circumstanced, that you have put yourself so much further from the point, which now of necessity becomes the object of your destination. Whether General Phillips remains in Virginia or goes further southward, he must be opposed by a force more substantial than militia alone; and you will for that reason immediately open a communication with General Greene, inform him of the numbers, situation, and probable views of the enemy in Virginia, and take his directions as to marching forward to join him, or remaining there to keep a watch upon the motions of Phillips, should he have formed a junction with Arnold at Portsmouth.
* The British had contrived to keep a fortified post at Penobscot, which at this time contained a garrison of about three hundred and fifty men. The Council of Massachusetts thought a good opportunity now presented itself, while the British fleet was in the Chesapeake, to employ the idle hours of the French in an enterprise against Penobscota Proposals to that effect were made through a deputation, and accepted. M. Destouches agreed to furnish two sixty-fours, two frigates, and a smaller vessel, and preparations were immediately begun. A land force of six hundred men was offered by Count de Rochambeau, and also four mortars, and four twenty-four-pounders. The Chevalier de Chastellux was to command. At first it was expected, that Massachusetts would furnish militia ; but this part of the plan was given up, and Count de Rochambeau proposed to enlarge his force to eight hundred men. After all the arrangements had been put in train, the project was finally abandoned, in consequence of the apprehension of M. Destouches, that a superior British naval force would come upon some parts of his squadron while in a divided state. — MS. Letters of Rochambeau and Destouches, April 6th, 7th, 15th.
Every difficulty, so far as respects the wants of the officers and men, and the uneasinesses, which might arise upon their being ordered upon a more distant service than they expected, were foreseen, and would have been removed by recalling the detachment and forming another, had not the reasons of a public nature, which were mentioned in my letter of the 6th, outweighed all private considerations.
You must endeavour to get shoes from Philadelphia, which will be essentially necessary before you can move; and, if you will cause a return to be made of such articles, as will probably be wanting in the course of the campaign, I will endeavour to forward them from hence, with a proportion of any stores, which may have been sent on by the States for their troops. If the officers will write back to their friends here for any additional baggage, of which they may stand in need, it shall be forwarded under careful conductors. The difficulties, which you will experience on the score of
* See APPENDIX, No. I.
provision and transportation, would have been common to any other body of troops. They will I know be great, but I depend much upon your assiduity and activity.
If the most distant prospect of such an operation as you speak of had been in my mind, I should have looked upon your detachment as essential to the undertaking ; but I can assure you, without entering into a detail of reasons, which I cannot commit to paper, that I have not at present an idea of being able to effect such a matter. This had very great weight in the determination of the general officers and myself ; for we should have been very happy in an opportunity of succouring the southern states by a diversion, could it have been attempted with any tolerable hope of
The small remains of the Jersey line seem necessary to form a head, to which the recruits, if any are obtained, may unite themselves. That line stands next for detachment, and therefore it is more than probable that it may soon become necessary to send the whole to the southward. But the reason, which I have just mentioned, operates in favor of keeping the remainder as long as possible. I shall be glad to hear from you, as to the time of your setting out from Elk, your prospects of getting forward, and the temper of the troops ; and, above all, I shall ever be happy in knowing that you are well, and that every thing contributes to your happiness and satisfaction, being very truly and sincerely, my dear Marquis, &c.